Busting the Myths About Diabetes

Managing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming. It means testing blood sugar. It means focusing on your food. It means staying physically active and having a healthy weight. It means handling your insulin and meds. There is also the struggle to teach others about this health problem. There is so much misinformation and sometimes family and friends act like they have all the answers. We are here to set the record straight. Let’s look at myths about diabetes — and reveal the truth.

Myth 1:

Diabetes occurs in overweight people only.

People of normal weight can have insulin resistance and get Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is often found in patients with a normal or even low weight. 

Myth 2

You look too healthy to have diabetes.

Some people have ideas about health and weight. But a person is not healthy just because they are thin. And a person isn’t sick just because they are overweight. 

What is occurring on the inside of our bodies does not show on the outside. Awareness of your own body is very important. When something doesn't feel right, see your doctor. Symptoms of diabetes can also be silent or unnoticeable, so it is also vital to have yearly health check-ups and get screened if your doctor has concerns for diabetes. 

Myth 3:

You are too young to have diabetes. 

Among the two types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetes most often begins in children and young adults. Even, Type 2 which used to be known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’ is becoming more common in children, especially with young people who struggle with obesity and have a family history of diabetes. 

 

Myth 4:

People cause their diabetes by eating too much sugar or unhealthy foods.

When someone gets diabetes, it is not their fault. Diabetes is a complex health problem that is related to a combination of family history, lifestyle, as well as lesser-understood factors.  Type 2 diabetes for example happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops making enough insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown.  

While there are some known family history and lifestyle risk associations, it is still difficult to predict exactly who will develop diabetes.  We cannot place blame on people who get diabetes. We can support people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. We can urge them to do the most for themselves by learning about diabetes and taking steps to cut their risk factors. A Certified Diabetes Educator can help.

Myth 5:

Diabetes can be “cured” by using certain products, using certain diets or doing certain exercises.

You may find all kinds of products that claim to help or even cure diabetes. It is unlikely that these products work. Worse, they may distract you from the recommended program you use to handle diabetes. If you are thinking about adding or wanting to change your diabetes care, discuss it with your doctor so you can agree on a plan that makes sense and is medically safe.

Myth 6:
Type 1 diabetes is worse than Type 2 diabetes.

Each person's situation is different. The exact type of diabetes a person may have is less important for any complications from diabetes than successfully and regularly managing your blood sugar levels to begin with.

That takes:

  • Understanding the effects of food
  • Knowing the effects of activity
  • Being aware of their bodies
  • Knowing how to use insulin if prescribed
  • Using medicine effectively
  • Talking to their health care team
  • Finding other support as needed

The goal is proper care management to cut the risk of complications.  

Sources: American Diabetes Association, CDC, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judith Kolish, RD, LDN, CDE

Last updated: 4/4/2019

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